Michelle Reynolds Podiatrist, Marple

Author Topic: Govt. blackmailing Local Authorities re Congestion  (Read 2509 times)

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Dave

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Govt. blackmailing Local Authorities re Congestion
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2007, 06:07:43 PM »
Quote (wolfman @ Feb. 20 2007,12:44)
Councils will also be banned from giving discounts to people such as nurses and shift workers who need their cars when there is little public transport.

People who work unsocial hours, such as shift workers, won't pay congestion charges at all because they don't clog up he roads at peak times.  So they won't need discounts.   That's the whole point of congestion charging.

To be honest I can't see what the fuss is about - congestion charging seems perfectly reasonable to me.  After all, something's got to be done about the clogged up roads in this country - we certainly can't carry on like this!  

wolfman

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Govt. blackmailing Local Authorities re Congestion
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2007, 12:44:31 PM »
The Government is attempting to “blackmail” local authorities into introducing congestion charging by refusing to fund public transport schemes unless they are linked to a new tax on motorists.

The Department for Transport has established a £1.4 billion fund for investment in local transport but has told councils that any bid for a share of the money must include congestion charging.

Local authority leaders have accused the Government of trying to force their hand and make them take the risk of a political backlash from drivers.

More than 1.6 million people have already signed a Downing Street website petition against road pricing. Tony Blair will make a statement tomorrow responding to the petition, which closes tonight.

At least ten cities are planning to bid by the July deadline for the £1.4 billion because it would pay for tram lines, hundreds of miles of bus lanes and a huge improvement in rail capacity and frequency.

Under the rules governing allocation of the fund, recipient councils will be required to raise the overall cost of motoring for thousands of drivers in their areas.

The DfT has reneged on a promise to allow councils to offset congestion charging with a discount on other motoring taxes, such as fuel duty or vehicle excise duty. The rules state: “We have concluded that any rebating of revenues back to users, such as through national taxes, would be inappropriate for local schemes.”

The rules also make clear there will be a “secure lock-in mechanism to ensure that the road-pricing scheme is delivered as part of a package alongside the transport investment”.

Councils will also be banned from giving discounts to people such as nurses and shift workers who need their cars when there is little public transport.

Ministers have said that they want to test the technology for nationwide congestion charging by carrying out regional trials. They have repeatedly given assurances that these will take place only with the consent of local political leaders.

But the ten areas identified by the DfT as possible locations for the trials have all been told that they will have to accept congestion charging if they want funds for bus, tram and rail schemes and to relieve congested road junctions.

The ten areas are Manchester, Birmingham, Durham, Shrewsbury, Reading, Norwich, Bristol and Bath, Cambridge, the East Midlands (Nottingham, Derby and Leicester) and Tyne & Wear. Because their size would mean up to a million motorists taking part, the DfT is understood to be very keen either Manchester or Birmingham host a key trial.

Roger Jones, chairman of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, said: “The Government is pushing us very hard. They are saying ‘you either follow our policy or you don’t get the money’. We are being, in inverted commas, blackmailed.”

Gary Clarke, chairman of West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, said: “The Government is trying to attach strings to this money. We were told that if we didn’t put road pricing in the bid, it wouldn’t help our case.”

A DfT spokesman said: “We have no intention of forcing local authorities to take forward pricing in their areas. Evidence suggests that road pricing can be a powerful tool and we want local authorities to explore whether it would be the right approach in their areas.”